10444433_888473651192424_6987027942137831947_nI know there’s a lot of lonely hearts out there who hate Valentine’s Day down to the core of their being. Who see Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark Holiday designed to be a cash grab for folks foolish enough to be in love in mid-February…

I say –

Haters gonna hate!

And I love Valentine’s Day. So much, that I was once one of those crazy brides who chose Valentine’s Day to get married on. Sure, the marriage itself was a tragic tale filled with alcohol, angst and roller coaster rides – but I took back the holiday last year with a day long Google Hangout (because I’m a geek like that) filled with motivational speakers geared towards single moms and moms who felt single. And in doing that I took back the romance of the holiday for myself.

Now I’m not a romantic in the traditional sense (I mean I have an appointment to turn half my hair purple later this month!) but I am a local loyalist and I am continually amazed at the quality and variety that can be found in a small town if you’re willing to take a while to shop.

Keep in mind that while I want to highlight businesses all over the Yellowhead East, I can only really talk knowledgeably about the ones I know about and/or have been in. If you want to be include in a future local shopping round-up (if I get a moment to write one again) get in the directory and introduce yourself! (Not all of the recommendations here are in the directory, but that’s a good way to get my attention)

So, let’s start with flowers. Because you know that flowers are one of the top two things that people tend to think about on Valentine’s Day. Flowers and Candy. Now, you need to be careful buying flowers! Know your love and make sure they actually like flowers and aren’t the type to think in their heads, “These are dead. Why are you giving me dead things?” Don’t buy flowers if your woman (or man) has ever voiced such opinions. In order to make a WOW gift, you must have paid attention to their likes and dislikes. (And started shopping weeks ago…but if you haven’t there’s still hope!)

Now, if they do like flowers – you are in luck! Whitecourt has at least two Flower shops that I would recommend – both have lovely owners (I’m sure the owners of the other ones are really nice, I’ve just never met them – yes, people we have four flower shops in town plus the grocery stores and big box stores…if you have a love who loves flowers you have no excuse!) who are passionate about floral expressionism. Both are centrally located, Fabulous Flowers is located in the mall and is a true treasure trove if your love pines for country prim flair. I loved her Valentine’s Day ad so much I shared it on my personal Facebook timeline (and shared it again at the top of the blog…)

10633862_929355820410847_1014823020658523104_oInspirations Flowers and Gifts just opened earlier this month and has a sort of uptown elegance type feel to it. With a wide variety of silk, potted and basket gifts – so, if you’re really not sure if the decadence of red roses has quite the WOW factor you are looking for- you’ve got choices. Personally, I bought some beautiful purple crocuses there last week (a potted plant…I’m one of those that’s not so fond of cut flowers except at weddings). They are delivering to Fox Creek for Valentine’s Day as well – so if you’re out in that direction and haven’t already booked your delivery, you might want to get on that.

10422959_866547230025040_1441556341339859182_nIn Onoway, you’ll want to visit Dosie Dotes & Greens – you may recall the arrangement I won in October when I presented on Social Media for the Chamber of Commerce there. I know from her Facebook posts that she has way more in her store than just flowers. So go take a peek!

I know there’s a beautiful flower store in Barrhead. I’ve heard tales of it, and I know I was in there years ago when I was in radio sales, but I haven’t been lately. I’m sure it’s filled to the rafters with roses this weekend.

Okay, so flowers aren’t her thing (or his- I firmly believe that this should be an equal opportunity holiday when it comes to gifts) or the thought of stretching the budget to cover flowers just doesn’t appeal – there’s always food.

Now chocolate is (I’ve heard) a ridiculously popular choice, but for a really WOW gift, you’ll want to dig a little deeper than picking up a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup at the Seven-11, k?

In fact, if you’re in Whitecourt – pop about three doors down and visit Violet Mae’s Bakery. I was in there last Saturday and bought chocolate cupcakes. They did not survive intact till Valentine’s Day (I didn’t expect them to!) so now I must buy more (only I’m trying to resist because going to the gym every day is such hard work!) They were amazing. A little sweet on the icing, but I always say that after devouring a six pack of cupcakes.

For chocolate lovers there are also options at Beaver Creek General Store (I heard they do amazing fudge) and Sweet Things (which has the best commercially available chai in town – though they have no viable links online that I can find…)

I know there are a couple of hobbyist chocalatiers in the area, so if you have a chocolate lover it could be worth tracking them down via Google and Facebook. I’d do it for you, but I can’t. I just can’t. You know, it’s that gym thing again.

So, maybe your girl is practising moderation a la the Philosopher Queen too – and chocolate is more likely to get you a shoe flung at your head then the lovey-lovey kissy-kissy that you’d prefer.

When flowers and chocolates are out the window, and wowing them is still on your agenda. It’s time to think creatively – which really means heading out to find a gift that says, “I actually paid attention when you were droning on about your interests”  or taking her out to dinner at her favourite restaurant.

I’ll be at Mountain Steak & Pizza – because let’s face it, when you’re old and in love the trimmings and gifts are overkill.

With the Snowmobile Invasion in Whitecourt, and Sno-Mo days in Alberta Beach – there’s tons of entertainment on tap to choose from, including comedy at The Ritz (but that’s on Friday night, so you can go with the Fabulous Flowers wow her early approach for that one).

Now if dinner out is not going to cut it, and you want to make a more physical expression of your love let me leave you with one last spicy local suggestion that might heat things up.

And for those of you who are single (or feeling single) – you have two choices. You can either hide out for a few days until all the pink and red frou-frou fades (it will fade, those of in love cannot sustain this level of mushiness for long!)- or get out there and spend some time celebrating love for yourself.

Whatever you do, whoever you’re with – I hope it’s a day filled with love for you.